Members of National Assembly across the political divide expressed their anger at the prolonged unscheduled load shedding, exorbitant electricity bills, corruption, mismanagement and non-availability of required material on Monday.
Presided over by Chaudhry Salik Hussain, the committee spent most of its time on the complaints of its members and half a dozen special invitee National Assembly members. The Members from KP, Sher Akbar Khan, Zahid Akram Durrani, Malik Anwar Taj, and Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali proposed the formulation of a Sub-Committee so that the issues of their constituencies are sorted out in a proper way.
Zahid Akram Durrani and Malik Anwar Taj, however, acknowledged that losses in their areas are very high but demanded that whatever quota remains, sans losses, must be supplied to these areas. Maulana Chitrali complained of non-availability of material required to complete development schemes. Consensus was seen among the National Assembly members from KP that Pesco staff was not giving any respect to the orders/ directives of CEO Jabbar Khan.
The Members from Sindh also requested Chairman Standing Committee to constitute a Sub-Committee on Sindh. Shazia Marri and Nuzhat Pathan also praised newly-appointed Secretary Syed Asif Hyder Shah, a close relative of Chief Minister, Sindh, Murad Ali Shah, for his good job as Commissioner Sindh.
Rao Ajmal, MNA from Okara said that there is a dire need to strengthen Pakistan as “it is slipping from our hands”.
He proposed that a system should be formulated in the country where the role of contractors is done away with. Secretary Power acknowledged that Discos system is not functioning properly due to which maximum complaints are coming from there. He further contended that there as some districts in Pesco where recovery is only 20 percent.
“Discos have been told that four-hour load shedding means availability of electricity for 20 hours,” he said, adding some system has to be made to sort consumers’ complaints. He maintained that Pesco, Sepco and Qesco are affecting the entire power chain.
MNA, Riaz-ul-Haq said that corruption in the power sector is at its historic level in the incumbent regime. Discos officials are outrightly asking for bribes adding that he personally paid a bribe for genuine work. “I haven’t seen corruption in power sector at this level during my entire life. Minister for Energy Hammad Azar is an insensitive person,” he continued.
Nisar Ahmad Cheema, MNA raised issues related to his constituency, inflated bills under the guise of Fuel Price Adjustment and higher rates for agriculture tube wells. He cited the example of India where farmers are being provided electricity at a very low price. He proposed that maximum tariff for farmers should be fixed at Rs 3 per unit and noted the issue of non-availability of urea and higher price of DAP fertilizer.
The Committee also expressed annoyance at the absence of Minister for Energy from the meeting and asked Chairman Standing Committee to send a note of displeasure to the Minister on behalf of the Committee members. Saif-ur-Rehman MNA, hailing from Karachi, criticised Karachi Electric (KE) for its worst ever performance. He said KE officials are conniving with those who are using Kundas (hooks) and their units are being included in the bills of those consumers who pay bills.
Secretary Power informed the Committee that circular debt was Rs 2.280 trillion as of June 30, 2021, adding that circular debt stock is declining which will come down to Rs 1.880 trillion by the end of the current fiscal year.
The figures of circular debt were challenged by the Members and the Secretary was asked to verify figures as Salik Hussain, Chairman of the Committee pointed out that circular debt is in fact rising by Rs.35 billion per month. It was further told that due to the recent steps taken by the government the circular debt could be reduced to 1.88 trillion rupees by June, 2022.
Members of the Committee were perturbed over the recent price hike in the electricity tariff which was also approved by NEPRA. They opined that this increase will affect all commodity prices and will massively burden the poor people. NEPRA attributed the price hike to the increase in fuel prices.
The Committee strongly recommended that the procedure should be made hassle-free for getting tube well connections and a period of 2 months is enough for the Discos, for giving these connections. The secretary was asked to submit a comprehensive report in this regard in the next scheduled meeting and also to review supplier vendors for each Disco which has in fact become a mafia, to which delays are happening as many Discos have only engaged one contractor who has a monopoly over the entire Disco to which delays are happening in supplying of equipment for new connections.
On the insistence of Members from KPK and Baluchistan the Committee appointed a Sub-Committee under the convenorship of Malik Anwar Taj, MNA, to look into and address the issues in the regions of KPK and Baluchistan. MNAs, Sher Akbar Khan, Zahid Akram Durrani and Muhammad Israr Tareen would be the other members of the Sub-Committee.
The meeting was attended by MNAs Sher Akbar Khan, Malik Anwar Taj, Saif Ur Rehman, Lal Chand, Muhammad Israr Tareen, Saira Bano, Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada, Shazia Marri, Zahid Akram Durrani and Movers besides secretary from M/o Power Division and senior officers of the relevant departments.